Sunflowers

The 2014-15 women’s golf team stood
The 2014-15 women’s golf team stood in Grinter’s Sunflower Farm northeast of Lawrence for their team photograph.

Decades ago, Ted and Kris Grinter planted sunflowers for bird seed on their farm northeast of Lawrence in Leavenworth County, Kansas. They welcomed guests to the fields from Labor Day and into the fall. Hundreds of thousands of photographs have been taken since. The only request by the Grinters was a donation.

Now, those fields cover 40 acres. An estimated 30,000 people from every corner of the world visited last year. The power the Kansas state flower holds on people has become a true phenomenon.

I understand the spectacle sunflowers spread lushly over the farm’s fields have on people. Today’s photograph of the KU 2014-15 women’s golf team in the Ginter fields is one of my most popular ever. That photograph leads off the lighting chapter of my book “Tribute to Crimson & the Blue.” As people page through the book, they always ooh and aah and linger on that spread even longer than spreads for KU men’s basketball.

Never have the sunflowers looked prettier than they did on an early evening in September 2014. Two battery-powered strobe lights, with controlled softbox modifiers, were positioned to balance just enough light onto the faces of one of KU’s best teams in history while letting the brilliance of the sunflowers shine in all their glory.

As I stood on a ladder taking this photograph, and then studying the image on the back of my digital camera, I know there was one gigantic smile shining on my face as those sunflowers and those women beamed in my eyes.


Jeff Jacobsen has photographed practically every big event the sports world has to offer during a professional career that spans over 53 years. Jacobsen has seen things up close that only a diehard sports fan could in their dreams. His work for the Topeka Capital-Journal, Arizona Republic, Kansas Athletics, Inc., many national publications and now Action Images Photography, Inc., cemented his reputation as one of the nation’s finest sports photographers.

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